Eleonora Duse as Magda

Source: Laurence Binyon, ‘Eleonora Duse as Magda’, in London Visions (London: E. Mathews, 190), pp. 42-43

Production: Hermann Sudermann, Magda [Heimat], Drury Lane, London, June 1895

The theatre is still, and Duse speaks.
What charm possesses all,
And what a bloom let fall
On parted lips, and eyes, and flushing cheeks!
The flattering whisper and the trivial word
No longer heard,
The hearts of women listen, deeply stirred.
For now to each those quivering accents seem
A secret telling for her ear alone:
The child sits wondering in a world foreknown,
And the old nod their heads with springing tear,
Confirming true that acted dream.
And the soul of each to itself revealed
Feels to the voice a voice reply,
With a leaping wonder, a joy, a fear,
It is I, it is I!
But O what radiant mirror is this that dazzles me,
That my dead rapture holds,
That all my joy unfolds,
That sets my longing free,
My sighs renumbers, my old hope renews?
I have lived in a sleep, I have tasted alien bread,
I have spoken the speech, and worn the robes of
the dead;
I have buried my heart away, and none believed.
But now, speak on, and my bonds untie:
At last, it is I, it is I!

Comments: Laurence Binyon (1869-1943) was a British poet and playwright. Eleonora Duse (1858-1924) was an Italian actress of worldwide renown, the performances celebrated for the depth of their sensitivity. She played Magda in the German playwright Hermann Sudermann‘s Heimat, entitled Magda for its British performances in 1895, the same year as Sarah Bernhardt also played the role in London. The production with Duse was at Drury Lane.

Links: Copy at Hathi Trust